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Silva confident competition for places will make his defenders even better

Kurt Zouma had to make do with a place on the bench against Cardiff.

Silva confident competition for places will make his defenders even better

Marco Silva has no doubt the competition between Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma will make all three better players – even if it is giving the Everton manager a headache.

Mina got his chance in the centre of defence last week with Zouma ineligible to face parent club Chelsea and the former Barcelona man kept his place alongside Keane for Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Cardiff.

Mina and Keane have kept clean sheets in both games and Silva admits he is torn between wanting to give all three opportunities and the stability of a settled back four.

He said of leaving out Zouma: “It was a really difficult decision to take. We have very good solutions in that position at this moment.

“Kurt Zouma deserved to play the 90 minutes as well but it’s football. Other times Mina was on the bench and Kurt was playing, or Michael wasn’t playing some moments.

“Zouma worked really hard during the week to show me he wants to play. We have five, six months to play, a busy December as well, and all of them will have their chance to play more and more.

“I’ll see what will be my decisions. What we achieved before Mina came into the starting XI with Kurt and Michael, and (Seamus) Coleman and Lucas (Digne) as well, that stability is really important. They start to know better each other and they did really well.

“Last game our organisation was fantastic and the back-line did really well, and Mina did well and kept his position. I can change for many reasons. I like to have this problem. That means we have quality and I don’t have doubts.

“This competition between them will make them better players every day and we can grow as a club in this way.”

The result, settled by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 59th-minute goal, lifted Everton up to sixth place in the Premier League table and left Cardiff in the bottom three.

Neil Warnock hailed the effort of his players but believes adding quality in January will be crucial to their chances of avoiding relegation.

“That’s the best we can do,” said the Bluebirds boss. “I think to stay up we have to have that little bit more quality. But it’s not easy in January, the big clubs find it difficult as well. I do feel we can improve the squad to give us a fighting chance and if we get three, maybe four, players.

“It’s these things that drive me on as a manager. That’s why I’m in my 70th year. Keeping proving people (wrong). This would be the biggest achievement in my life if we could stay up.

“We’re not going to give it up easily. Probably we shouldn’t have gone up last year and we did, proved a few people wrong. It’s twice as hard in this league but nothing’s impossible.”

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